This post is from our partner and Invoca Summit 2019 Platinum Sponsor, Drips

By now you’re either packing your bags for one the best-kept secrets in marketing, or you’re simply overwhelmed with sorrow and regret for missing it. That’s right, Invoca Summit is almost here! Okay, with close to 300 expected attendees, dozens of speakers from companies like DISH, US Bank, and Acadia Healthcare, I guess the word is kinda out. But that doesn’t make this conference any less amazing!

Invoca Summit is unlike any other conference and by far my favorite event of the year. It combines top-caliber content with hundreds of enterprise marketers in an unmatched atmosphere that is Santa Barbara. It will make you swear off conferences in Vegas FOREVER.  

I have attended Invoca Summit a few times, so I would like to hook up veteran and newbie attendees alike with the ultimate guide to making the most of your time in Santa Barbara and Invoca Summit.

Before you Leave for Summit

Download the new app!

The app is easy to find in Google Play or the Apple App Store. Just click on those links right there or search “Invoca Summit”. Plug in the code we sent you via email, and you’re all set to go! From there, update your profile picture so people can put a face to the name to make for better quality networking during the conference. You’ll also notice that the app’s default setting is “private”. I suggest making this public so you can network prior to arrival.

Schedule meetings and block off time for important events

Reach Out to Friends and Partners prior to Summit and use your calendar to block off your meals for high-value 1:1 meetings. Blocking these times will be important if you use a calendar app, such as Calendly. These meeting placeholders should be for your clients, partners, vendor meet-ups and your Invoca rep. And don’t forget to schedule the keynotes! These are always my favorite. There is a LOT to do at Summit, so don’t mess around and set your schedule ahead of time.

Just as an example, or if you want to follow me around, here’s a look at my schedule 

  • Breakfast 8am – Eat light, you have a long day ahead of you.
  • Coffee meeting 9am – directly after breakfast, same location
  • Brunch 10am – I hope you are hungry (I don’t suggest the brunch meeting at Summit because Invoca’s content is simply that good. Did you see Daymond John is speaking?? Spend the time in a keynote or panel instead.)
  • Lunch 12pm
  • Cocktails 6pm (before dinner)
  • Dinner 8pm
  • Nightcap 11pm – Hotel lobby (after dinner drinks)

Next you will want to use Calendly and configure it for 20-minute slots for all of your other meetings (inbound). Share your cell phone in the confirmation and ask for the other party to share theirs in the Calendly form. 

What to Pack

Less is more when it comes to Summit and especially if you’re flying from the Midwest like me. Here are some tips that I use for packing for success: 

Pack for California outdoorsiness. It’s Santa Barbara, so they do a lot of meals outside, bring Sunglasses and a light sweater/coat for the evening.

Pack your personal condiments. My contact holder hack makes it easy to pack my favorite toothpaste, hair clay, face wash, and moisturizer. Make sure to smell them before each use so you don’t end up with toothpaste in your hair, I’ve made that mistake.

Hanging headphones. This may seem small, but anything you can hang on your bag vs putting them inside is a win. Easier access, plus more space inside my bag for other stuff.

Bring wrinkle-less clothing. My VP of Marketing loves shirts that don’t require ironing (who likes to do that anyway?) His favorite is www.mizzenandmain.com 

Wear Comfortable Shoes. This is Santa Barbara after all and you’ll be doing a lot of walking. You might as well be comfortable and skip the Ferragamos. (ed. note: I bet you $5 A.C. will wear Ferragamos.)

Pack for your Activity. Staying on Thursday for the golf, food, and wine tour? Crazy enough to surf with Gregg Johnson, Invoca’s CEO? Be sure to bring some extra clothes and your clubs if necessary. 

Be comfortable on the plane. RXBar snacks are the best. Drink soda water to keep a full stomach. Drink tomato juice if you’re stuck in a window or middle seat, the sodium will keep you from needing to pee for a while. (ed. note: Tomato juice goes great with vodka, but that won’t help with the peeing.) If you are on a flight that is over 2 hours long, wear compression socks. The blood won’t pool at your feet and your shoes will still fit when you land. This has saved me from having to pack an extra pair of ‘travel shoes’ for this exact problem.

What to do During Summit

Take some walking meetings! Santa Barbara is a beautiful place. I had one of my favorite meetings at last year’s Summit with Invoca’s CEO Gregg, it was a walking meeting (his idea). I’d never done a walking meeting at a trade show before, but I loved it. I got to see a bit of Santa Barbara, got the blood moving around a bit, and it felt more genuine than the traditional face-off at the lobby with the obligatory card swap.

Have a thoughtful question prepared for every session. You aren’t only doing yourself a favor, but you are helping the room and the crowd in general. If a panel gets 3 questions it will often get 13. It takes a couple of people raising their hands for others to feel comfortable doing so. Be bold, speak up, raise your hand, and be a leader.

Meet speakers after the sessions! This is a unique chance for you to be one of the few people that come up to the speakers directly after they exit the stage. Often, I will just say “I’d love to grab five minutes with you later today, are you free?” (A hard question to say no to), then I let the rest of the pack pounce with their questions. It’s much better to get the face-to-face equity, explain you know they are busy, and ask for five minutes later on in the day, exchange contact info and go from there.

Write your notes down with a pen. I know it sounds crazy to do this at a tech conference, but it’s proven that hand-writing notes helps with recollection and accountability. I hate writing to the point where my hand cramps from signing a check, but at tradeshows and in-person meetings, I only do it on paper. It’s way too easy to get distracted by notifications and other apps using a device.

Make friends with your Invoca rep. Your Invoca rep is going to be your homie during Summit. They have all the secrets about the best restaurants and sights in town and they’ll know where people are going after hours.

Black Out. NO, WITH THE HOTEL CURTAINS, NOT THE BOURBON. It’s sunny California, and you are going to need the rest. this travel hack for instant blackout curtains will save your life at 7 a.m. You’re welcome.

What to do After Summit

Digitize notes. Between sleeping off your closing party hangover and heading back to work, digitize notes and business cards immediately. You will lose the paper stuff. I try to do this on the flight back as well as catch up on any emails I got behind on during the trip. This way I can hit the ground running the next day back at the office. 

Make connections stick. Reach back out to speakers with that one note or important thing they talked about which was relative to you. Use this as context to reach back out to them and connect with them on LinkedIn. 

And don’t forget to schedule time for Invoca Summit 2020. You’ll want to come back. See you at Summit!

A.C. Evans

Posted by A.C. Evans

Aaron Christopher (A.C.) Evans is a pioneer in conversational marketing and the co-founder and CEO of Drips.com. Drips is the first conversational texting company of its kind, founding a new category and leading the way for some of the biggest brands in the world to use automated, humanized conversations at scale. On a daily basis, Drips engages in tens of millions of completely humanized conversations with zero client-side human resources or operators. Starting at the early age of 16, A.C. has been passionate about "scaling the unscalable" in all of his business ventures and Drips is no exception. As a proven thought leader, he also shares his vast experience in performance marketing, consumer retention, and entrepreneurship. A.C. continues to innovate many of the best practices in lead conversion and compliance being adopted within the industry. Learn more about Drips at drips.com.

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